This Week’s Must See Events: Ride the Macabre Wave

by Paddy Johnson and Michael Anthony Farley on September 20, 2016 Events

Last month, Corinna Kirsch pointed out to us that NYC’s art scene is getting pretty goth this fall. A quick glance at the exhibition thumbnails below reveals this spooky prophecy was dead-accurate: graveyards, skulls, and darkness predominate.

Tuesday night, recount the psychedelic adventures of Bruce Conner at MoMA. Wednesday, the domestic gets the spotlight with projects from Chloë Bass and Oksana Todorova at CUNY and A+E Studios, respectively. Expect plenty of creep-out factor from the latter’s biomorphic, toxic household items. Thursday, Julie Mehretu’s occult-influenced new body of work takes her practice in a darker direction, and Irene Lusztig lectures about conjuring empathy from (probably) eerie archival material.

The weekend gets even more macabre. Brian Andrew Whiteley is displaying his infamous tombstone at Christopher Stout Gallery Friday night, while Ghost of a Dream builds their own dream haunted house from the ruins of art fairs Saturday at Smack Mellon. And of course, Wickerham & Lomax’s Local Atonement: A Nutshell Study of Unexplained Death opens at American Medium. Sunday, Mana Contemporary’s fall open house encompasses just about everything under the sun—from Marilyn Monroe’s poetry to Israeli textiles—but of course a little momento mori content as well. Andy Warhol’s skull paintings will be on view. 30 years after his death, Warhol still has his finger on the undead pulse of the art world zeitgeist.

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MoMA, T2, Titus Theater 2

11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY
7:00 pm Website

Looking For Mushrooms

A chronicle of Bruce Conner’s travel to Mexico and his experiences on psychedelic drugs. The film takes the form of dispatches and includes works by  Ben Van Meter, Chick Strand, Bruce Baillie, and Lawrence Jordan.


The James Gallery at The Graduate Center, CUNY

365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY

Chloë Bass: Gather the house around the table

In Chloë Bass’s Gather for the house around the table, visitors are encouraged to sit at the family table, enact every day poetry, share a meal and use the domestic objects she’s laid out. It doesn’t sound like much, but in our experience, these seemingly simple performances by Bass have a strange tendency towards the profound.

A+E Studios

160 West Broadway
New York, NY
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.Website

OKS: Toxic Vice

Oksana Todorova (a.k.a. OKS) crafts feminist-macabre ceramics. Think vagina dentata meets household cleaning products in bondage-themed teacups. Working from a studio integrated fully with her domestic life, there’s a lived-in quality to much of the fragile work that makes the creepy factor so much more hard-hitting.


Marian Goodman Gallery

24 West 57th Street
New York, NY
6:00 PM to 9:00 PMWebsite

Julie Mehretu: Hoodnyx, Voodoo and Stelae

Maybe it’s time to give Julie Mehretu another look. She’s so firmly in the blue chip arena that at this point, it’s easy to forget that she’s still making new work and has a history of supporting younger artists in need.

These new works are more abstract than in years past—older works drew heavily on architecture—and referecnce graffiti, poetry and politics.


322 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY
7:30 p.m. -10:30 p.m.Website

What You Get Is What You See: Empathy in the Archive with Irene Lusztig

Filmmaker and archival researcher Irene Lusztig presents fifteen years of her work—questioning what it means to empathize across time. She’ll be discussing her process of historical excavation and how we relate to/humanize others based on documents of their existence. It’s a pretty timely discussion given how many artists today are looking to the past and found footage for material.


Christopher Stout Gallery

119 Ingraham Street
Brooklyn, New York
6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Website

Brian Andrew Whiteley: The Trump Tombstone

Brian Andrew Whiteley’s “Legacy Stone” made headlines earlier this year when it was installed illegally in Central Park. The piece is a tombstone for Donald Trump, and appeared mysteriously overnight anonymously. After some serious investigations from authorities, Whiteley came forward as the artist.

In this exhibition, we’ll get a chance to see the notorious tombstone as well as photographic documentation, a rubbing, and other ephemera produced in collaboration with printmaker James Stroud. And if you can’t catch the opening reception Friday night, you can still stop by to pay your respects throughout Bushwick Open Studios. We’re guessing visitors aren’t invited to piss on the grave, yet.


11 W. 53rd Street
New York, NY
7:00 p.m.Website

Projects 104: Nástio Mosquito

The Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito tackles heady issues such as colonialism and language with the belief that there’s such a thing as a “Responsible Thief.” Namely, appropriation can be a useful tool for building relationships and identity. This can manifest as performance, writing, video, and more. Indeed, the artist will be performing a one-time piece the day his MoMA exhibition opens at 7:00 p.m. Definitely a must-see.


Smack Mellon

92 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, NY
12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.Website

Open Studios at Smack Mellon

Our DUMBO neighbors Smack Mellon are having an all-day open studio event, featuring the work of their 2016-2017 studio fellowship artists. Smack Mellon’s mission statement is to promote and support the work of emerging and mid-career women artists, so we can’t emphasize enough how important their programming is. They’re also opening exhibitions from Bobby Neel Adams and Ghost of a Dream, the latter of whom is showing an ongoing project that involves constructing homes from art fair detritus.

Open studios: Mike Crane, Nons Faustine, Cate Giordano, Erica Magrey, Joiri Minaya, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Tyler Henry

American Medium

424 Gates Ave
Brooklyn, NY
7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.Website

Local Atonement: A Nutshell Study of Unexplained Death

Wickerham & Lomax never disappoint and always surprise, so we can’t emphasize enough how much we recommend this show.

Billed as both a thematic semi-sequel to their design-house-meets-designer-babies exhibition DUOX4Larkin at Artists Space in 2012 and an examination of place’s influence on inhabitants, we’re still guessing what we’ll see here. If the trailer [see top of the page] is any indication, our guess is smart work that’s some combination of sexy, dystopian, and sleek.


Mana Contemporary

888 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ
1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Website

Fall Open House

Mana Contemporary is one of the coolest spots in Jersey City, and on Sunday they have more than enough programming to make for a worthwhile quick trip to the Garden State. This includes open studios, the exhibition Andy Warhol: The Original Silkscreens, The Middle Eastern Center for the Arts exhibition Textile—Territory—Text, performances, and much more. Check out their website for the full line-up.

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